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  • Writer's pictureChrystie Cole

Morning Pages: Psalm 1

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

This psalm is among my favorites. The psalmist contrasts the ways of the wicked and righteous and their resulting ends. It is both a warning to heed and a promise to receive.

He begins,

Vs1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

As a writer, I love to see how other writers use words. In this Psalm, the writer uses multiple words to capture a lived life: walk, sit, stand, meditate (thinks/ponders), and delight. These words encompass all aspects of being embodied—heart, mind, and body.

He says blessed or happy is the person who:

  • Does not walk—go the way of, follow—the advice or counsel of the wicked/ungodly

  • Does not stand—remain—in the way (path, manner of actions, or character) of sinners/ungodly

  • Does not sit—dwell, remain—in the assembly or company of those who scorn/mock/scoff the ways of YHWH

But instead,

Delights in—finds his joy and pleasure in and Meditates on—sets his mind, ponders, studies, muses—the counsel and direction of the LORD day and night. (The law in view here is likely the written direction God provided to Moses when he made a covenant with the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy; though, it could be any aspect of God's word).

I’ve long heard that you become like who you hang around. The psalmist warns us about dwelling or lingering in the presence of those who do not value the word of the Lord or follow his ways. We could take this to an extreme and become isolationists, which is not what Scripture teaches. I don’t think this is a call to not be around those who don’t know or love the Lord but to be cautious, to not grow comfortable in the presence of or conform to the ways of those who openly reject him.

A person who walks with another is doing regular life with them, journeying with them and following them. A person who stands with another is rooted in their presence. And a person who sits in the assembly or gathering of others is unguarded and relaxed in their company. This is what we are to beware of—becoming comfortable with and following in the ways of those who do not know, love, or desire YHWH.

The writer doesn’t say the opposite is to stand, walk, and sit in the presence of the godly (though that may be part of it) but to set our minds (meditate on) and hearts (delight in) on YHWH and his word.

For those who do this,

Vs. 3-4 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season; and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

I find it interesting that the call to action for us is to set our minds and hearts on YHWH, and the result is that we become like trees planted by streams of water. Healthy trees live long lives. They grow deep, complex root systems embedded beneath the ground surface, which helps them weather wind, storms, and droughts. They can bend and sway when the winds come without being ripped from the ground. This is such a beautiful analogy. Life brings chaos and turmoil our way, but we are not uprooted because we have grown deep in YHWH.

And the person who meditates on and delights in YHWH and his word is not just any tree; he is a tree planted by a river that has all it needs for abundant, fruitful, long life. Trees' root systems stretch out to find water. I’ve seen trees whose roots have broken through sidewalks and roads and found stagnant puddles. But this tree is planted near a river—which is flowing and nourishing and abundant. And the result is that the tree doesn’t become diseased or languish from lack of nutrients; instead, it produces sweet, pleasant, good, and life-giving fruit. One point that would be easy to miss is that the fruit isn’t for the tree. Water is for the tree. Fruit is for others. Just as a tree rooted in streams produces fruit for others to enjoy, a person who is secure in God's goodness and faithfulness produces fruit that is sweet, pleasant, and nourishing for those around her.

I find it very interesting that the verse doesn’t say the tree always produces fruit; it produces fruit in season, in its appointed time. Though it is still rooted, nourished, and fed by the river, there are seasons of dormancy. But even then, its leaves remain; they don’t wither, languish, fall, or fade.

The psalmist says this person will prosper in all they do. It doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes life feels like one setback after another. But according to the writer, this isn’t so for those who follow YHWH. So what are we to believe when this doesn’t appear true in our lives? When my circumstances are far from prosperous? This is where we have to go back to the ideas of rootedness and dormancy. There are times when droughts come, storms rage, and winds rip. But when our roots are deep in YHWH, we may bend and even break, but we will not be uprooted. And the time will come once again when we will yield delicious fruit.

But in contrast to the tree whose roots are established in YHWH, the wicked are like chaff. They have no roots. And when the gentlest of breezes come, they will be blown away and scattered about aimlessly.

The psalm concludes,

Vs. 5-6 “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

In contrast to a tree that stands upright, tall, and firm, the ungodly will not be able to withstand the day of God’s judgment. They will be blown away like chaff, scattered in the winds, and they will not be found among the congregation/the assembly of those YHWH counts as righteous.

This is an ominous warning to heed but also a rich promise to receive. And it makes me so thankful for the promise of Jesus. Jesus is the true tree from Psalm 1. He is the one who took on our sinful flesh and didn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. Instead, he delighted in the ways of YHWH and meditated on his word day and night. He fulfilled the law in our place. He is the tree planted by a stream of water. His leaf does not wither or fade. All that he does prospers. He is the tree that produces the fruit of life for us. He is the one who enables us to stand on the day of God’s judgment. Because he is the righteous tree and we are the ingrafted branches connected to his life, his righteousness, we will sit in the assembly of God's people and feast from his table.

Jesus is the vine, and we are his branches (John 15); through him, we are nourished and fed and find solid ground. And as we abide (remain, dwell) in him, we will not only stand before God as holy, righteous, and blameless, but we will also, in the appointed time, produce a sweet fruit that others are able to feed from, delight in, and be nourished by. And that gives me hope.

Until next week,


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